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The Demise of Tiger Woods is Sad to Watch

By: | Mon 20 May 2024

It is a misconception that Valhalla is Norse for heaven. It is actually the mythical place where slain Norse warriors go when they die.

And I can’t help but think how apt it was that Valhalla was the venue where we watched the once-great Tiger Woods reduced to the ranks of mere mortal as he missed the cut at the PGA Championship by a country mile. Ironically, Woods drove the ball pretty well. And his putting stroke still looks to be in good shape. But everything else about his game reflected the fact that here is a 15-time major winner who now plays once a month.

A host of iron shots came up short of their target and his once-awesome short game was missing in action. Yes, there was the occasional wondrous shot. And yes, he attracted the largest galleries. But it was like watching the last sporting rites being administered to Woods’ career.

He will tee it up at the US Open in June and at The Open Championship in July, and I fully expect him to miss the cut at both majors. Woods is a hugely proud man. He insists that he still believes he can win again but he must know that he is fooling nobody. Sadly, his battered body simply is not up to the physical demands of tournament golf on the most difficult courses in the world.

When Woods won the PGA at Valhalla in 2000 he held three of golf’s major titles. Less than eight months later he won The Masters to become the first golfer to hold all four majors at the same time. He is now a shadow of that golfer.

But this tournament will be remembered for many reasons other than the demise of Woods.

Tiger Woods

I am still struggling to get my head around Scottie Scheffler’s arrest. He is one of the most mild-mannered sportsmen on the planet. Nothing seems to fluster him. Ever. I simply cannot believe that he would have knowingly assaulted a police officer - or anybody else for that matter. And what does it say about the world number one that he was able to put the trauma of his arrest behind him and go out and shoot a round of 66? I really do wonder if anybody else in the field could have done that.

Once again we saw Rory McIlroy come up short. Having got off to a great start with an opening round of 66, he tumbled down the leaderboard on day two. Having come to Valhalla on the back of two successive victories, hopes were high that he might finally be ready to end a drought that has lasted nearly 10 years. This was the course where he won the most recent of his four majors. His many fans (myself included) believed that returning to the scene of that success would inspire him and that he would be able to draw on positive memories. But yet again, we were wrong.

I also have to question the PGA of America’s decision not to allow preferred lies after torrential rain on day two. Time after time we saw the world’s best players having to face shots, hitting golf balls covered in mud. I know this was a major but why would the people in charge want to make golfers look stupid? This was a mistake.

Viktor Hovland began to once again look like the golfer who swept all before him at the end of last season. Having achieved so much success in 2023 he made the unfathomable decision to change his swing coach and tinker with his golf swing. As a result, he looked like a shadow of the golfer we all knew him to be. Asked why he would want to change things, Hovland said he was a curious man. 

Well, thankfully, common sense has now prevailed. Hovland has returned to long-time coach Joe Mayo and, surprise, surprise, the results have been almost instant. As I have written before, I will never understand why golfers who reach the top of the game believe it is a good idea to change the swing that got them there.

Speaking of golfers who swept the boards in 2023, Jon Rahm continues to look unrecognisable from the man who won The Masters. Since his big-money move to LIV Golf last year, the Spaniard has struggled to find the form that earned him that move in the first place. I can help but wonder if Rahm is now regretting his decision. He has always been a fiery individual but he now seems to be a permanently angry golfer.

Ludvig Aberg discovered that golf is maybe not quite as easy as he believed it to be. Having finished second at Augusta in what was his major debut, the Swede struggled from the off at Valhalla and missed the cut. I am certain that it was as big a shock to Aberg as it was to the rest of us. Unlike Rahm, I expect Aberg to put things right in double-quick time. I will be putting some money on him to win the US Open next month.

Then there was Robert MacIntyre. The Scot has recently opened his heart about how difficult he has found it to settle into life in America. But this is a gifted player with a short game to die for and he finally began to prove that he belongs in this exalted company. I expect to see him kick on now and comfortably retain his PGA Tour card.

And as for Bryson DeChambeau? A driver and a six iron to reach the 600-yard 10th hole is all that needs to be said!

Xander Schauffele finally got the major monkey off his back, leading from start to finish. This could well be the start for this mild-mannered American. He is a deserving winner.

I love watching majors. They are the pinnacle of our sport, designed to bring out the best and identify the best. By and large, this was another enthralling tournament but once again I lost count of the number of times the commentary team had to apologise for the foul language uttered by many of the field. When will the PGA of America, the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour do something to stamp this out. It is unacceptable, especially when you consider the number of youngsters who tune in.

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Tags: us pga tiger woods PGA Championship PGA

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